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Rafah Refugee Camp:

Where is Rafah Camp Located?

Rafah Camp is the southern-most camp and is located on the Egyptian border. The camp was established in 1949 to house 41,000 refugees. At that time it was the largest and most concentrated population of refugees in the Gaza Strip. However, several thousand residents have since moved from the camp to a housing project in nearby Tel es-Sultan.

Today the camp is almost indistinguishable from the adjacent City of Rafah. It is divided into 17 blocks; about 20 percent of the shelters have concrete roofs and 80 percent have asbestos roofs.

The sewerage system covers only 80 percent of the camp and about 60 percent of Rafah town. UNRWA carried out a feasibility study for a new sewerage network in 1994 and work is now underway with funding provided to Rafah Municipality by the European Commission.

Since the start of the second Intifada in September 2000, Rafah camp has suffered from a campaign of demolitions by the Israeli military along the Egyptian border. Several hundred families have been made homeless and UNRWA is working to provide them with replacement shelters in a safe part of town.

Since September 2000, UNRWA Relief and Social Services Department has calculated 1,728 houses were demolished by the IDF action at the border fence area in Rafah (3,337 families/17,362 persons). 2236 families/ 12,406 persons found eligible for UNRWA rehousing assistance. UNRWA, so far, had handed over 414 housing units to 444 families with a further 109 housing units for 116 families are completed and will be handed over to the beneficiaries soon and 17 housing units for 20 families are under construction in Rafah. The Agency has recently been able to secure approximately US$ 32.4 million from the Saudi Fund for Development and the Government of Japan, which will enable the Agency to construct 1210 housing units. 371 families, the remaining of the homeless eligible refugee families are still outstanding pending budget to be rehoused.

Rafah Camp Facts and Figures

  • The registered refugee population is 95,187 persons.
  • UNRWA operates 31 schools (20 elementary and 11 preparatory) for 32,479 enrolled pupils in 2004/2005. Only 9 schools are run in a single shift.
  • The Agency's health centre underwent comprehensive maintenance in 1994, and its equipment was upgraded. It is staffed by 69 health care workers assigned to morning and afternoon shifts. On average 31,200consultations are held there each month. In 1995, a new Agency health centre was constructed in the Tel es-Sultan housing project; it staffed 24 health care worker and average of consultations per month is 9,400.
  • 2,902 families (13,180 refugees) are eligible for relief assistance under the Agency's special hardship programme.
  • The women's programme centre was reconstructed in December 1995 and more than 5,500 women and 3,500 have participated in the programmes yearly.
  • A new three-storey building for women's activities was added to the youth activities centre with funds from the Government of Japan.
  • A community rehabilitation centre was established in 1993 in an old UNRWA feeding centre and an audiology unit was opened in 1998. The centre was reconstructed with assistance from UNRWA and funds from the Government of Japan. It provides rehabilitation services to about 135 refugees with disabilities and integrated educational activities to about 2,500 children.

Canada Camp/Tel Es-Sultan Housing Project

After the Israeli occupation of Sinai and Gaza in 1967 an extension to Rafah camp was built on former Egyptian territory to house some 5,000 refugees whose shelters had been demolished by the Israeli authorities when they were widening roads for security reasons. This area became known as Canada camp after the Canadian Contingent to UNEF, which was based in the area after 1956. With the redrawing of the international boundary in 1982 some 5,000 persons were left in Egypt. Although outside of UNRWA's area of operations, the Agency continued to provide services to the refugees in Canada camp. Under an Egyptian-Israeli agreement those Palestinians were to be repatriated to the Gaza Strip. Since 1994, UNRWA has been administering the funds contributed by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) for their relocation.

By the end of 2000, all the families from Canada camp had been repatriated to the Gaza Strip. The majority of families were housed in the Tel es-Sultan housing project. The Government of Canada, in its capacity as the Gavel Holder of the Refugee Working Group, and the Kuwaiti Fund for Arab Economic Development, contributed funds for this repatriation. In addition, Canada also provided funds for the construction of a community centre in Tel es-Sultan for the benefit of the returning families.

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Added: May 2006
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